CrossFit Games

2023 CrossFit Games Men’s Podium and Dark Horse Picks

July 27, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Instagram @justinmedeiros34
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It’s finally time to make some of our most anticipated predictions of the year as the 2023 CrossFit Games are now officially just a few days away.

Below we have outlined 3 men we believe have the best chance to finish on the podium as well as 2 men who could possibly surprise us and steal one of those 3 coveted spots at the top.

Before we highlight these specific athletes, let’s take a look at how the men’s podium has looked since 2014.

Podium Appearances 2015 – 2022:

  • Mat Fraser: 6
  • Patrick Vellner: 4
  • Justin Medeiros: 3
  • Ben Smith: 2
  • Brent Fikowski: 2
  • Bjorgvin Gudmundsson: 2
  • Noah Ohlsen: 1
  • Roman Khrennikov: 1
  • Lukas Hogberg: 1
  • Ricky Garard: 1
  • Samuel Kwant: 1

Fun Fact: Since 2019 there have been 2 new athletes on the podium each year that weren’t on the podium the year before.

Now let’s dive into our podium picks for this year, making our decisions based on past performances at the Games as well as events from this year’s Quarterfinals and Semifinals.

Podium Picks

1st Place: Justin Medeiros

It’s never wise to bet against the reigning champ in any sport, and CrossFit is no different. From his first year at the CrossFit Games just 3 years ago Justin Medeiros showed that he was not there to merely compete, but to win.

After going head-to-head against Mat Fraser in his final year of competition, Medeiros immediately took over as the new man to beat, while many of us were expecting a veteran like Patrick Vellner or Brent Fikowski to move into that top spot.

Medeiros and his coach, Adam Neiffer have obviously figured out the key to winning and the rest of the field is still desperately trying to catch up. There’s no reason to suspect that will change this year. 

There are however 2 recent observations we would like to mention that could possibly mean Medeiros doesn’t win his third straight championship.

  1. He didn’t have the best Semifinal performance, finishing 5th at the North America West Semifinal. Of course, he likely was not peaking for Semifinals, but he did have four event finishes in 10th or worse, including a 24th place finish.
  2. One of his main rivals for the throne, Patrick Vellner looked dominant at Semifinals, beating Medeiros by 93 total points.

Regardless of his Semifinals scores Justin Medeiros is still our overall favorite to win this year’s Games and it would likely require any other athlete to have an average event finish of 3rd or better in order to beat him.

2nd Place: Patrick Vellner

You may have expected this spot to be reserved for Roman Khrennikov after his finish last year, but in our opinion Patrick Vellner is fed up with finishing anywhere, but in first.

Unfortunately he still hasn’t appeared to have broken his habit of having bad finishes in opening events of competitions (15th in Event 1 at Semifinals).

At last year’s Games he slightly disappointed fans with a 6th place overall finish, but we’re expecting the Patrick Vellner that gave Medeiros trouble in 2021 to show up in full force. He has already finished in 2nd two times and in 3rd two times, now all he is missing is the championship.

If he looks like he did at Semifinals, he is going to be very hard to beat, especially if he wins multiple events like he usually tends to do.

Unless Medeiros makes a mistake and leaves the door open for Vellner however, Vellner will likely fall short once again.

3rd Place: Roman Khrennikov

Let’s not forget that Roman Khrennikov nearly won it all at his first in-person CrossFit Games, finishing just 27 points behind Justin Medeiros.

The scary part for the rest of the field is that he didn’t even look like he had any glaring weaknesses. Khrennikov had as good of a Games performance as anybody could ask for, but Medeiros was simply better.

Khrennikov is going to do well in any event that involves machines, and now that he’s added some mass to his frame he should have an easier time in the heavy events.

Technically there’s not much that he needs to do differently from last year in order to keep his position on the podium, but he’s gotta be very careful of the handful of athletes behind him.

With another year as a Mayhem athlete, we think it’s pretty safe to say he’ll stay in the top 3 overall.

Dark Horses

The following athletes also have a chance to crack the podium, but are not as likely to do so compared to the athletes above. 

Samuel Kwant

It is always strange to include Samuel Kwant on lists like this, but he somehow always manages to slip under the radar.

Kwant has already landed on the podium in 2020 as the 2nd Fittest Man on Earth and just barely missed out last year as he finished 4th.

Throughout his 5 years at the CrossFit Games, Kwant has only won 2 events, but stays pretty consistently near the top of the field with most event finishes inside the top 10.

In order to secure his spot on the podium this year he will likely need to win a couple of events and avoid having three bad events (20th or worse) like he did last year.

Lazar Djukic

Lazar Djukic has never placed outside of the top 10 at the CrossFit Games (2022: 9th, 2021: 8th) and this year he looks poised to make a strong push for the top 3.

Although the level of competition was slightly lower at the recent European Semifinal than North America West or East, this should not take away from Djukic’s dominant performance. 

He may be the King of Europe, but he definitely still has some work to do if he is going to become one of the fittest three men in the world. Four finishes in 20th or worse last year did too much damage and eliminated him from podium contention, but if he has managed to fix those weaknesses over the off-season he may surprise everyone this year.

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